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Rogue Mormon Bishop?

Is this a case of a rogue Mormon bishop? Bishop Church of the Nauvoo 3rd Ward authorized an email via the LDS church’s official website that said in part:

As has already been seen in Massachusetts, this will empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise. It will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores; the current push in Massachusetts is to recognize and legalize all transgender rights (An individual in Massachusetts can now change their drivers license to the gender they believe themselves to be, regardless of actual gender, which means that confused men and women are now legally entering one another’s bathrooms and locker rooms. What kind of a safety issue is this for our children?). Furthermore, while the bill legalizes civil unions, it will be used in the courts to show discrimination and will ultimately lead to court mandated same-sex marriages.

To help defeat this bill, please call your state representative and state senator and ask that they support traditional marriage and vote against the civil unions bill. If you are unsure who your legislators are, please see the link at the end of this email. [emphasis added]

Note the overt appeal to fear and subtle appeal to disgust. This is the typical modus operandi of the leaders of authoritarian followers. The message offers no evidence of compassion or an effort to understand his fellow human beings, something I would expect from true followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

This message also belies the idea that Mormon leaders don’t tell their followers how to vote. It also comes closer to expressing the true desires of most LDS people: no equal rights for people in same-sex relationships. I doubt that the bishop’s leaders will be publicly pleased at his actions.

One more piece of evidence that the fears and squicks of many of the LDS people stand in the way of social justice. These less than honorable gut reactions should not be allowed to masquerade as the moral high ground.

(via Dancing With Crazy)

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Slavery Today

Think that slavery in America ended with the Civil War? Think again.

Most people imagine that slavery died in the 19th century. Since 1817, more than a dozen international conventions have been signed banning the slave trade. Yet, today there are more slaves than at any time in human history.&ellips;

Save for the fact that he is male, Gonoo Lal Kol typifies the average slave of our modern age. (At his request, I have changed his first name.) Like a vast majority of the world’s slaves, Gonoo is in debt bondage in South Asia. In his case, in an Indian quarry. Like most slaves, Gonoo is illiterate and unaware of the Indian laws that ban his bondage and provide for sanctions against his master. His story, told to me in more than a dozen conversations inside his 4-foot-high stone and grass hutch, represents the other side of the “Indian Miracle.”

Gonoo lives in Lohagara Dhal, a forgotten corner of Uttar Pradesh, a north Indian state that contains 8 percent of the world’s poor. I met him one evening in December 2005 as he walked with two dozen other laborers in tattered and filthy clothes. Behind them was the quarry. In that pit, Gonoo, a member of the historically outcast Kol tribe, worked with his family 14 hours a day. His tools were simple, a rough-hewn hammer and an iron pike. His hands were covered in calluses, his fingertips worn away.

Gonoo’s master is a tall, stout, surly contractor named Ramesh Garg. Garg is one of the wealthiest men in Shankargarh, the nearest sizable town, founded under the British Raj but now run by nearly 600 quarry contractors. He makes his money by enslaving entire families forced to work for no pay beyond alcohol, grain, and bare subsistence expenses. Their only use for Garg is to turn rock into silica sand, for colored glass, or gravel, for roads or ballast. Slavery scholar Kevin Bales estimates that a slave in the 19th-century American South had to work 20 years to recoup his or her purchase price. Gonoo and the other slaves earn a profit for Garg in two years.

Every single man, woman, and child in Lohagara Dhal is a slave. But, in theory at least, Garg neither bought nor owns them. They are working off debts, which, for many, started at less than $10. But interest accrues at over 100 percent annually here. Most of the debts span at least two generations, though they have no legal standing under modern Indian law. They are a fiction that Garg constructs through fraud and maintains through violence. The seed of Gonoo’s slavery, for instance, was a loan of 62 cents. In 1958, his grandfather borrowed that amount from the owner of a farm where he worked. Three generations and three slavemasters later, Gonoo’s family remains in bondage.

Don’t get the wrong impression that slavery is just a Third World problem: according to the article, 17,500 new slaves enter America every year.


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Secrecy Amendment

I find it increasingly disturbing that the U.S. government tries, convicts, and punishes people based on secrets which are withheld in the name of national security. This has been going on for too long.

I would like to see an amendment to the Constitution along the lines of the following:

No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property on the basis of secret law, evidence, testimony, or process.

I would much rather some guilty people go free because we were unwilling to disclose the evidence against them than see all people at the mercy of unaccountable bureaucrats who epitomize the banality of evil.

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